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Sun's Lexington Market coverage is one-sided [Letter]

7:30 AM EDT, March 11, 2014

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The Sun's coverage of Lexington Market has been one-sided and, in my opinion, borders on being racist ("Baltimore, merchants seek relief for a beleaguered Lexington Market," March 8).

I am a teacher at Polytechnic Institute. Every year for more than three decades I have taken my English students to the central Pratt Library for a full day to kick off the work for their research papers. For many of those years, we have all walked from the library to Lexington Market for lunch.

Only last month we conducted one of these scholarly field trips for this year's students. About 100 students participated, and — as always — we had a really nice lunch-time experience at Lexington Market. In fact, students from another school happened to be there at the same time performing on stage in honor of Black History Month. Many diners enthusiastically watched the performances from the second-floor seating area.

The Sun's reporting about the market, on the other hand, has focused almost exclusively on negative things, talking about "middle-income shoppers who abandoned" the market and "hoped-for" shoppers who currently avoid it "whether because of discomfort with the setting, dissatisfaction with the offerings or both."

Of course the market could improve. It would be nice, for example, to be able to purchase unsweetened iced tea, as part of the delicious "half-and-half" beverages which, along with lemonade, are locally unique and made-to-order upon request at one of the market's customer-friendly stalls.

Just three days ago, I went to Lexington Market for lunch with a friend who is a former teaching colleague, now retired. While waiting in line for one stall's popular fresh-baked turkey, and after having purchased some excellent home-made soup at another stall, I got into an interesting conversation with a gentleman who is a recruiter at local high schools for Hampton University, and he joined us for lunch. The market was bustling, and we had to look quite hard to find a table with three seats available.

While we were eating and talking, a young man on his way out noticed our gray hair, tapped one of us and, with a sincere and respectful smile, said, "There's a lot of wisdom at this table!" It was quite a tribute. I should mention that the young man was African-American and that we three elders were a multiracial group, two African-Americans and one white.

It seems that the subtext of the recent Sun articles is not that too few people go to Lexington Market but that too high a percentage of the diners and shoppers are African-American.

It reminds me of the racial make-up of the teaching force in Baltimore City. When I began teaching in the 1970s, the vast majority of public-school educators here were African American, thereby offering great role models for our predominantly African-American student body.

Now, however, utilizing large numbers of teachers from Teach-for-a-Minute and other means, the forces controlling our city have significantly gutted the percentage of African-American teachers, who have now dwindled to being a minority of the city's pedagogues.

Are The Sun and its owners now seeking to racially transform Lexington Market too? Is that what this is really about? Why are stories like mine — about years of good experiences at the market — largely absent from The Sun's coverage?

Bill Bleich

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